Supreme Court Declines Ruling Over Distribution of Religious Flyers in Schools

( [email protected] ) Jan 27, 2004 12:48 PM EST

The ultimate victory was awarded to Joseph Hills as the Supreme Court recently declined ruling saying the Scottsdale Unified School District discriminated against Hills and violated his free-speech rights by banning him from distributing flyers that was promoting Christian summer camps of his organization in 2002.

The flyers were promoting summer camp classes not only Bible studies but also wood-working and dance held by a Christian organization called "A Little Sunshine from Arizona," where Hills was the president.

Although Hills did received the permission from the district about posting the flyers but the school started taking different stance and eventually decided to ban Hills from passing out the flyers unless he completely removed the description of the Bible classes as one of the parents made a complaint

Hills was not willing to abide by what the district said. He filed a lawsuit against the district for violation of his First Amendment rights of free speech and free exercise of religion. In May, the Ninth Circuit ruled against the school district, which then appealed to the Supreme Court.

Attorney Gary McCaleb with the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund says the ruling from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Hills v. Scottsdale Unified School District was based on well-established high court principles and vindicated his client's constitutional rights.

"The Ninth Circuit very plainly pointed out that the school's correct rule in these situations is simply to teach the students about the First Amendment and why we tolerate different views, including religious views, in our society. The school should stop acting as censors -- and that's something that is long past due in our society."

Although Hills suffered financially through this case – he couldn’t even run the summer camp, but the attorney praised for his passion of taking this path for other Christians .

"It's been a long haul for Mr. Hills. [The case has] had a tremendous impact on him," McCaleb says, adding that, in his opinion, the camp operator remained a "a tremendous Christian witness" throughout the court battle. "He stood for principle throughout it all. [He is] a remarkable gentleman -- and I think a lot of other Christians owe him a debt because he stood for everybody's rights when he spoke out."